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From the Director

Library Shout-Out

I want to call your attention, give a shout-out as it were, to some services and upcoming events.

  • It is tax time. We have a link on our homepage to tax information including the paper forms the federal and state governments provide to us. Other forms are available online. There is also a link to sign-up for free basic tax preparation for those with household income under $53,000.
  • The Teen Filmmaker Festival is Sunday afternoon, Feb 22. Further details are on our website. I expect there will once again be creative, fun, thoughtful, inspiring films from teens. Come early, the theater will fill up.
  • Jerry Dennis, author of The Living Great Lakes, will be here in less than a month: March 3. Copies of the book are available at all locations; program information is available on our website and in print brochures also available at all locations.
  • We’ve revamped the Music page on our website. There is new information and links to Hoopla and Freegal.
  • There is a new display in the rotunda popular reading area at Central: Indie Next List. These are titles based on recommendations from independent booksellers across the country.
  • Watch for the March, April, May LINK, our newsletter, for a wide array of spring programs. It will be in your mailbox soon, and
  • It might still be winter but we are busy planning for summer reading!

Come visit soon – one of our locations or via our website.

We Like Numbers, Too.

The image of librarians is that we are more about words than numbers. I guess that’s true but there are two “number” sections on our website I think you will find interesting.

We’ve just added library use statistics to our website. Circulation of books, music, movies, and digital products are tracked by location….central and each branch….along with program attendance and computer use. There are numbers and graphs.

The value calculator is not new to our website although it hasn’t been highlighted recently. It is an interesting way to appreciate the value of the library services you use.

I’d welcome your comments on either of these.


Library Use Statistics


I often use this space to promote one of our services or to highlight something on our website. This week I am doing both, namely our ebook collection available through our website.

A Pew Research Center survey issued in the fall found that the number of Americans age 16 and older who own a tablet computer has grown to 35% and those who have an ereader such as a Kindle or Nook has grown to 24%. Overall those with a tablet or an ereader device now stands at 43% and more than 50% in households earning $75,000 or more.

Ebooks are available to KPL cardholders through our website. Not every publisher makes their new ebooks available to libraries so not every bestseller you might want to read is on the site. Many are however and they can be checked out on your device for up to three weeks.

Ebooks are just one of our digital services. Audiobooks, music, movies, magazines are available also.

Visit soon…..digitally or at one of our five locations.

As tablet ownership grows, more use them for e-books



Changes in AV

If you are a frequent patron of the movies and music collection located in the lower level of Central Library, you’re likely aware of the changes we’ve made there over the past few weeks.

Audiobooks have moved from the lower level to the second floor rotunda. Music CDs have moved to the previous location of audiobooks and the CDs shelves will be taken down to open up that corner of the Audiovisual (AV) area.

Movies and music holds available for patron pick-up have been moved from the first floor to the lower level, across from the Audiovisual service desk. All movies and music must be checked out at kiosks on the lower level, not taken to the first floor circulation area. The checkout unit from the children’s room has been moved to the lower level to have two units there to accommodate movie and music circulation. DVD Hot Picks have been dropped as a Central Library service and the Hot Picks titles will be added to the regular DVD collection; it continues as a branch service.

All of these changes, along with an increased security presence in the lower level, have been implemented in an effort to stop substantial increase in the theft of movies and music we have experienced over the past few months. I recognize some of these changes will be less convenient for some, but they were necessary to protect the community’s investment in our materials.

It is important that we take all reasonable steps to protect the collection purchased with tax money. While we believe the majority of the theft has come from a small handful of people, it has caused significant loss to our very popular movie and music collections. We want those collections to be available for all to enjoy.

We will welcome your help in preventing theft from your library. If you see suspicious behavior, please inform the staff or security guard. Help us protect the Kalamazoo Public Library collection to be enjoyed by all patrons.



Audiovisual Department

Digital Lab - What Services?

One of our goals for the first half of 2014 is to expand our digital services. We’ll have an area on the third floor of the Central Library with equipment and software. We are currently meeting with others in the community who offer digital services to the public to learn what is available, what is needed BUT we want to hear from you.

What do you want from a digital lab? Please take our survey to help us plan and offer the services you’d use. I’ll report here periodically on our progress, especially when we have a specific plan and a ballpark opening date.


Digital Lab Survey

Checkout Area Changes

Although it is not the beginning of a new year, back-to-school still seems like the beginning of a new year to me. With this “new year” we are making some changes at the circulation area of Central Library.

The Circulation Desk will transition to a Customer Service Desk. We’ll handle library card registrations and account questions or problems at that desk. Staff will be at the checkout kiosk to help library users check out materials there.

There is a change at the checkout kiosks. We have eliminated locked cases for DVDs and CDs so the checkout process for those items is much easier….no more unlockers.

We hope this change will allow us to provide better customer service as we respond to the increase in circulation and the decrease in tax revenues.


Service Desk Changes

A Transmedia World

I have often written here about the ebooks available through our website, but have seldom mentioned downloadable audiobooks. I check out many ebooks but few audiobooks, probably because I have a short drive to work, the time many listen to audiobooks.

Clearly reading is evolving. Today readers can continue the same story as they toggle between an ebook on their iPad or Kindle, a paperback at home, an eaudiobook in the car or on another mobile device….whatever format fits the setting and mood. And a new word…..this is considered the “transmedia” world.

We still maintain a large collection of the traditional audiobooks but in addition, downloadable eaudiobooks are available through our website. Many titles are available in ebook and eaudio format, some just in one or the other, depending upon the publisher.

Formats are evolving – VHS and cassettes are no longer – but for now, we have audiobooks in both physical and digital formats.



Access to eBooks

Our circulation of ebooks continues to grow but patrons often ask why we don’t have a specific new, popular title or why more copies of a title aren’t available. Unfortunately, the major publishers have been slow to make their ebook titles available to public libraries.

None of the six largest publishers sell or license ebooks to public libraries in the same way they do print editions. Three major publishers have pricing policies that make ebooks more expensive than print editions and others still refuse to make ebooks available to all libraries and are only now piloting programs that make them available to only select libraries.

The example of a recent bestseller makes the point: print edition cost to a public library: $15.51. Ebook cost on Amazon to an individual: $9.99. Ebook cost to a library from the publisher: $84.

The relationship between publishers and libraries is changing. Many small, independent publishers are willing to work with libraries; the major publishers have not yet adopted policies that address equitable access and fair pricing.

Oversight is needed to ensure that publishers do not inhibit access to ebooks in public libraries. The library community is urging policymakers to guarantee that all libraries and their constituents have unrestricted and equal access to ebooks at a fair and reasonable price.



Explore Our Website

I’m guessing when you visit our website, you go to one or two areas….perhaps the catalog, the calendar of events, maybe our databases. You know what you are looking for and you head there.

I want to call your attention to several new features or services available on our website with the hope you will explore them as well as your favorites.


New blogs are posted to our website several times each week, new materials being added to our collection are highlighted, new services are often featured in the rotating pictures. Visit often.


Kalamazoo Public Library website

Which is Greener: Print or E-book?

Do you consider the environmental impact when choosing a print or e-book format?

I admit, I’ve only thought very briefly about this question and it doesn’t enter into my decision to read a book in print or digital format. My decision is based primarily on availability.

I recently came across a short article on this very topic. It gave me pause. The author considered the trees used to make paper, chlorine bleach to dye the paper, use of recycled paper, amount of ink, energy needed to produce the ink, lifespan of a typical e-reader, and carbon emissions from production and use of an e-reader.

Bottom line conclusion from the author: an e-reader is the more environmentally responsible choice for those who read more than 23 books per year.

Now that you know this, will it make a difference in the format you choose?